Chris Murphy, the long-time manager of iconic Australian band INXS has died suddenly, aged 66.
His wife Caroline confirmed the news that the Chairman of Murphy Petrol Group passed away today “peacefully” at his beloved property in Ballina, on the far north coast of NSW.
He was surrounded by his family at their home, Sugar Beach Ranch.
“Best known for taking his ‘band of brothers’ INXS to worldwide stardom, CM Murphy influenced the lives of many around the globe with his endless passion and drive,” a representative for Murphy Petrol Group said in a statement. “He will be greatly missed.”
Murphy had been battling Mantle Cell Lymphoma.
Remaining members of the band Garry Beers, Andrew Farriss, Tim Farriss, Jon Farriss and Kirk Pengilly paid tribute to their “brother”.
“It is with great sadness that the remaining members of INXS mourn the passing of our brother, Chris Murphy,” the band said in a statement.
“Without Chris’s vision, passion and hard work, the INXS story would be totally different.
“Chris’s star burned very bright and we celebrate a life well lived and send all our love to his family.”
Murphy spent 40 years in the Australian music industry as a manager, publisher (MMA) and record label executive (rooArt, Petrol).
He not only took INXS to global superstardom across the ’80s and ’90s but also nurtured new talent as well, taking on Byron Bay teen sibling trio, The Buckleys, in 2018.
The group features the children of Mick Buckley — drummer of Aussie band The Radiators — Sarah, Lachlan and Molly.
“Chris has been our guardian angel from the day we met him and he will continue to be for the rest of our lives,” The Buckleys said in a statement.
“As with everyone who was so blessed to have known him –— the strength, passion, guidance and love he ignites is forever lasting.
“We are so grateful to have walked this earth with him, our best friend, greatest champion and mentor.”
Murphy wisely negotiated a deal for INXS directly with an American label, Atco and later Atlantic, a move that is widely regarded as having played a major role in their breakout success.
Even still, Atlantic was initially reticent to release Kick.
As Murphy recounted in interviews, the label offered the band $1 million to re-record it. Instead, he suggested combining the album’s lead single, ‘Need You Tonight’ (whose guitar riff can currently be heard on Dua Lipa’s ‘Break My Heart’) with a two-minute-37-second coda called ‘Mediate’. The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Murphy, who had also managed the group Models during the 1980s, was described as a master marketer, but there were stumbles, like the short-lived Max Q, a 1989 collaboration between Hutchence and Aussie musician and producer Ollie Olsen.
At the same time, Murphy indulged his entrepreneurial side and spent the decades investing in a variety of businesses, including an organic food provider, a magazine and a Sydney radio station.
In 1988, he launched independent label rooART, which was home to such acts as Crash Politics, The Hummingbirds, Ratcat, You Am I, Wendy Matthews and The Screaming Jets.
Following a 10-year hiatus, during which Murphy sold his music assets, he returned to the industry to build new companies. Petrol Electric Records was launched in 2001 (INXS signed with the label in 2008) and Murphy Rights Management in 2014. In 2018, he took on the country group The Buckleys, his first new signing in three years.
Most recently, he had been developing a retirement community for musicians and music industry professionals in New South Wales.
Speaking of the project in 2019, Murphy explained: “There’s a lot of people who are getting older. And, what are these people going to do? They’ve been working in a very creative industry all of their lives; what are you going to do now that you don’t have a job? Sit in a quiet retirement village with people you don’t know or share common interests? … People in retirement villages, as we speak, they’re the people who built this bloody country. The tradesmen, all sorts of people who lived through an era where you had to really work.”
Murphy is survived by his wife Caroline, children Stevey, Jeri, Jack, Louis and Charlie and grandchildren Asher, Samantha, Bella, Axel, Harley and Reuben, his Mother Janice and sisters Charne & Tanya.
– Reported with Variety